AI for FinTech conference hosted by FinTech Wales
19 March, 2020
On Tuesday February the 25th the Fintech for AI event was hosted by FinTech Wales with support from Cardiff Business School and Confused.com. It was one of those great moments where all of the hard work that is happening with FinTech in Wales suddenly makes sense and you get to see a really positive outcome. We were fortunate enough to be able to gather together a group of skilled, talented, expert, articulated, passionate and ‘good’ people to be able to present about everything AI in FinTech, and it was very much a privilege to be able to put it together for the benefit of all those interested in this really important topic area.
The theatre room was full and contained a heady mix of people all with a common interest in Artificial Intelligence covering major FinTech companies, directors of large FTSE 100 financial services organisations, senior government officials, local home grown and scaling AI enterprises and a healthy smattering of academics and next generation start-ups. It was, for us as organisers, the perfect ingredients that ensured a great and impactful event for all.
The day opened with Professor Arman Eshraghi (Prof. of Finance) from Cardiff Business School representing the hosting school from the University. Giving a great over-view of AI and how it is related and used in FinTech, taking us back to the origins of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning from the great Claude Shannon. This was the perfect start to warm up the audience and really set the scene for the rest of the day.
Following Arman was Professor Alun Preece (Prof. of Intelligent Systems) from Cardiff University whose energy and passion for AI can only be matched by the length of service he has committed to the subject. This has given Alun experience that is hard to match and it was great that he was able to share some of that with us. Alun took us on a deeper journey of where AI is at present and gave insight into his work on Human-AI collaboration.
As Associate Director in Global Innovation at big consulting firm EY Anna Fink is well placed to talk on AI in FinTech given the number of companies that EY work with on a regular basis. It was really insightful to hear the perspective from the consultants on how FinTech, Financial Services and Consultancy firms can work together effectively to better harness technologies such as AI. Practical experience is always a great way to learn good lessons.
Prof. Pete Burnap continued the broader morning theme from Anna bringing focus to Cyber Security and how AI is used within that. An evermore important factor of the FinTech community is around Cyber Security and raising any awareness on it to encourage its addition by design from the outset is a positive for the sector. Pete is Prof. of Data Science and Cyber Security at Cardiff University, as well as working in parallel at Airbus.
Finishing the morning session was Lucy Young who is Business Intelligence Manager at Amplyfi. Definitely one of the rising star companies in both AI and Wales. Keep an eye on them and see how they grow in the future! Lucy shared experiences and knowledge from Amplyfi who as a relatively new SME have very much walked the walk of acquiring a client base through Deep Web information and intelligence gathering products.
Lunch was taken in a great space in the Executive Education Suite which helps allow people to network and take a more informal approach to lunch. There were great demos from Mathworks who’s tool MATLAB I spent many hours using at Airbus for rapid prototyping of AI next generation products. Amplyfi and Lucy showed how it is possible to look deeper into the web for information and intelligence. Last, but not least, we had Senseforth AI discussing the Bot based products that they are developing through Natural Language Processing and are ranking in the top 5 world wide in terms of performance of those products.
The afternoon session was more focussed on how AI can be more ethical, transparent and auditable with a rationale of how we can regulate the area better to future proof what the FinTech sector is doing with AI and ensure the best path is taken.
First up was the charismatic Symon Garfield (Digital Strategy Advisor) from Microsoft. Working with a multitiude of other companies through Microsoft it was enlightening to hear how ethics and responsibilities should be included with AI and its development, and how that fits in with our Financial Services sector. Its great to see major tech companies like Microsoft pushing forwards in areas like this.
Following on nicely from Symon was Katherine Browne who is part of the Innovate leadership team at the Financial Conduct Authority playing a pivotal role in developing the FCAs approach to innovation. Katherine gave insight into how data and ethics are regarded by the FCA and how we can start to think with respect to how AI is applied in Financial Services products in the future. It was clear that this is very much an area of interest to the FCA.
The final talk of the day was from our expert on explainable AI in the form of Richard Tomsett of the Emerging Technology team at IBM. Richard has many years researching and applying ways that allow AI to be better interpreted. Richard showed us some of the pitfalls of AI and how we can overcome them to make it not only more transparent, but better and allow us to understand how and why it makes the decisions that it does.
Rounding off the day we had a panel session and were joined by Andy Brockway CTO of Confused.com and Dave Braines the CTO of Emerging Technology for IBM. We discussed topics around what the next big changes are going to be in AI, how its regulation will impact the sector and what are the big challenges organisations are facing on its application. Finally we took questions from the crowd with a great panel question of “What one thing would you like to apply AI to?” with some rewarding answers from all panellists.
It was great to see such an engaged crowd taking in all the knowledge that the presenters were willing to share. From our side as organisers it was especially great to see such a varied set of people in the crowd, and not to be focussed purely on the technical side of AI and its development but also on the ethical and regulatory side which are equally as important.
Thank you once again to all attendees, presenters, Cardiff Business School, The Executive Education team and Confused.com for helping us make this happen.
We have had various comments and activity around the day on social media, but one unsolicited piece of feedback which sums them all up quite nicely is:
“I did not have a chance to chat to you today, but wanted to say really enjoyed the AI day today. I usually have to travel to London to get such an informative session and it was nice to have one on my door step…. Thank you for a good day and I will be attending again.”